Greenehouse in Farmington’s Spring Newsletter!

Just received Linda Greene’s spring newsletter and wanted to share it with you here in case you aren’t on her mailing list yet. She always has great finds. I bought a blue moon wisteria from her last year that I am hoping made it through the winter. It’s zone 4 so a bit iffy for our zone 2b or not 2b but I piled on the hay mulch and have my fingers crossed!

Blue Moon Wisteria. Photo from Park Seeds.

Blue Moon Wisteria. Photo from Park Seeds.

For those who don’t know Linda, she has a greenhouse in Farmington aptly named The Greenehouse in Farmington! Head north from Dawson Creek up the Alaska Highway and watch for the sign on the right hand side. It’s between the Farmington Golf Course and The Farmington Store. She also frequents both the Dawson Creek and Chetwynd Farmer Markets.

Now here is Linda’s Spring Newsletter!

My yard is still mostly covered with mounds of snow, and wet spots that alternate between ice (ie. Yesterday and today) and puddles (a couple days last week). However, the greenhouse (with furnace running constantly) IS full of hanging baskets and bedding plants. And I saw one robin this afternoon. So…it’s coming (spring that is, as well as Christmas, I guess!)

I have the usual assortment of hanging baskets this year with some lovely new petunia colours, and lots of basket stuffers to do your own landscaping. Ina and I really like one called Blue Jays – and the Sophistica Blackberry is lovely. Lots of waves and supertunias will be available, Tumbler tomatoes as well as 5 or 6 other tomato varieties, bacopa, lobelia, lobularia (this is the sterile alyssum which doesn’t set seed so it blooms all summer without deadheading – great filler plant and very fragrant – comes in 3 colours), strawberry baskets, etc etc. I’ll have a bit of giftware again – including some beautiful solar lights. I like to try to find a few things that you won’t get anywhere else. Great for gift giving, or yourself! I also have 5 varieties of seed potatoes, and if you like the fingerlings, I have banana potato seed from my own garden. Trees and shrubs will arrive approximately May 10th and I have lots of Haskap coming, as well as a few lilacs and flowering shrubs. I don’t order a big variety so if there is something you want, come early or call and see what I have.

I formally open the weekend of May 3rd and 4th, with our open house and annual yard sale – Saturday 9 am to 5 pm, Sunday 10 am to 4 pm. I go to the Dawson Creek Farmers Market on Saturdays starting May 10th, and the Chetwynd Farmers Market (which I believe is now on Fridays starting around the May long weekend). Always good to phone first, but when the gate is open, I’m open. I’ll also be at the Farmington Farmerettes Annual Mother’s Day tea on Saturday afternoon, May 10th.

Email (lgreene@xplornet.com) or call me if there is something in particular you are looking for. If you have a greenhouse started and are looking for bedding plants, I’m happy to provide them now – my greenhouse (and all other available spots) are FULL! Give me a call 250-784-5320 and hope to see you soon!

HAPPY GARDENING
Linda

6 of 10 Gardens on the 2013 Dawson Creek Garden Tour

This marks my 100th post! I started this blog for a few reasons. I love to garden and I love to write, but mostly it came from having huge respect for those who successfully garden in cold climates and a desire to share what they do. The idea was spurred on by a friend–and fabulous gardener–from the south who shook her head at the idea of people actually attempting to garden in Zone 2b. I forget exactly what she said but part of it was “You just grow our weeds up there!”

Of course, I was insulted. But then I realized we do grow a lot of plants that southern gardeners consider invasive. And several of them even contain the word “weed” in their name. Goutweed, Joe Pye weed, Mountain Knapweed…and the list goes on. So she had a point. Zone 8 we clearly ain’t but that doesn’t mean our gardens aren’t magazine worthy! The Peace Country is a challenging place to grow plants but like so many in colder climates, we do so with great success. I am pleased to say my friend has stopped by to visit the site on a few occasions and has admitted to being blown away by what our gardeners create.

Every year when we go on garden tours I am blown away too!

Here is another example of one of our gardeners working their magic…a glimpse into the lovely garden of Dixie Kotylak.

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Several flower-packed containers flow along the house. A thick gravel mulch provides great drainage while keeping things weed-free.

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Delphiniums rollick in a container.

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A close up of those beautiful delphinium blooms…love the contrast of deep purple edged with blue!

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Roses, daylilies and more fill a bed alongside the house.

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I love thyme planted between paving stones…just wish I had the patience to weed it!

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An eye catching mix of containers filled with flowers along the garage wall…

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An exquisite sun catcher hanging from a Thunderchild crab apple tree.

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“A Secret Garden” tucked behind the garage is filled with an assortment of thriving perennials…

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A healthy hosta just starting to bloom…

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Loved the thoughtful touches such as these blossoms floating in the birdbath…

Crimson Flowered Broad Bean

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The story of the Crimson Flowered Broad Bean has everything Hollywood could hope for; a gorgeous protagonist, passion, disaster and a hero rushing in to save the day at the last possible second.

The titillating tale begins with the first mention of the bean’s cultivation in 1778. For almost two centuries gardeners enjoyed its presence both in their gardens and on their tables. It’s hard to fathom how this beautiful bean fell from favour, but fall it did. By the 1970’s it was no longer being offered in catalogues and had all but disappeared. One might think it was a matter of taste; but one would be wrong. These broad beans taste as good as they look. The only plausible explanation is that humans are a fickle bunch, always chasing after something new. Even when the recently introduced broad beans had boring white blooms and lesser flavour, gardeners added them to their seed orders, ignoring the poor Crimson Broad Bean into oblivion.

Rhoda Cutbush: Shown here with a handful of the Crimson Broad Beans she helped rescue from extinction is Rhoda Cutbush of England. Rhoda passed away in 2003 at 98 years of age. Photo Credit: Garden Organic  Shown here with a handful of the Crimson Broad Beans she helped rescue from extinction is Rhoda Cutbush of England. Rhoda passed away in 2003 at 98 years of age. Photo Credit: Garden Organic

Well, not everyone. Not Rhoda Cutbush of Kent, UK. Her father originally received the seeds for this heirloom from a cottage garden back in 1912 and Rhoda grew up eating this wonderful bean. As the bean’s only known proponent, Rhoda continued the tradition of cultivating the plants, saving her own seed and replanting year after year. And then…disaster struck! In 1978 at the age of 73, a crop failure wiped out every last one of Rhoda’s beans. Searching through a shed she stumbled upon a tin holding three Crimson Broad Bean seeds. In desperation she sent them to Lawrence Hills, founder of the Heritage Seed Library who took on the enormous responsibility of rescuing the bean from extinction.

Ironically, the Crimson Broad Bean’s near demise also proved to be its saving grace. The story captivated gardeners the world over and the laws of supply and demand helped the bean slowly regain its rightful place in seed catalogues. Today it is still an all too rare sight in gardens, but happily no longer in danger of extinction; at least not for the time being.

If your interest in heirlooms is big, but your garden is small this is a story to keep in mind. No matter how diminutive your plot might be you can surely manage to save three seeds. As the saying goes, never underestimate the power of one person to change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has! I challenge you to choose one heirloom that interests you and become a champion for its survival.

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Fava Facts

• Broad beans are also known as fava beans.

• A small percentage of people, usually of Mediterranean heritage, experience a severe allergic reaction to fava beans.

• Unlike heat loving bush and pole beans, broad beans are cool weather crops and should be sown the same time as peas.

• Plants can reach bush-like statures of 4-5 feet (1.2-1.5 metres) high. The Crimson Flowered Broad Bean is a bit smaller usually topping out at approximately 3 feet (0.9 metres) with robust 6 inch (15 cm) pods. Sowing to harvest is approximately 100 days.

• Crimson Broad Beans will occasionally revert to white blooms. Should this happen remove the rogue plant immediately to keep the crimson genes intact.

• Beans pull nitrogen into the soil making them an excellent cover crop.

• Broad beans can be eaten pod and all when young or shelled for soup beans when they are older. Skin on older beans can be rather chewy. Happily, the beans naturally shed their jackets while being boiled, exposing their tender, inside morsels. Simply scoop out the boiled beans and leave their jackets behind. They can then be consumed with a dab of butter or splash of olive oil or tossed into your favorite fava recipe.

• Beans are largely self pollinating but broad beans are often visited by bees; bumblebees in particular. To help ensure seed saving purity, plant only one type of broad bean in your garden.

• Broad beans are frequently attacked by black aphids. The simplest and safest method of dealing with these pests is to blast them off with a garden hose. Many gardeners report the Crimson Flowered Broad Bean doesn’t seem to be as bothered by aphids; just one more reason to be grateful we still have this bean in our gene pool!

• In Canada the Crimson Flowered Broad Bean is available from the following suppliers:

Heritage Harvest Seed
Box 40, RR 3
Carman, MB R0G 0J0
Fax (204) 745-6723
Phone (204) 745-6489
Email: seed@heritageharvestseed.com

And of course, once you start saving seeds, the Crimson Flowered Broad Bean will be available from your own address! I am germinating some seeds I saved to make sure they’re viable. If they are I would be happy to share a handful with anyone who is interested while supplies last. I just have a mason jarful so if the demand is high I can give six seeds to at least a dozen people. If they made their comeback from three imagine what can be done with six : ) I just planted four seeds today so I’ll let you know in a later post when (if?) they sprout and where you can pick them up. Despite needing 100 growing days mine did just fine in our Zone 2b…but as we know here in the north, so much depends on the year and every year offers its own unique gifts and challenges.

A special thank you goes out to Neil Munro, current manager of The Heritage Seed Library, for his help with facts about their role in the resurrection of the Crimson Broad Bean and for providing us with a lovely picture of Rhoda Cutbush. Anyone interested in finding out more about this seed saving organization can check them out here. And thank you to Gardens West who first published a version of my article in their magazine in October 2012.

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